1981 appearance on Saturday Night Live Spheeris' documentary brought the band to the attention of John Belushi, who lobbied successfully to get the band a spot as a musical guest on the 1981 Halloween episode of his former show Saturday Night Live. Belushi had originally offered Fear the soundtrack for his major motion picture Neighbors. The film's producers eventually forced Fear off the project, and Belushi got them the infamous SNL gig as compensation. The band's appearance included a group of moshers, among them Belushi, Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat (and later Fugazi), Tesco Vee of The Meatmen, Harley Flanagan and John Joseph of the Cro-Mags, and John Brannon of Negative Approach.
The show's director originally wanted to prevent the dancers from
participating, so Belushi offered to be in the episode if the dancers
were allowed to stay. The end result was the shortening of Fear's appearance on TV. They started their second song by saying, "It's great to be in New Jersey", drawing boos from SNL's
New York live audience. Fear played "I Don't Care About You", "Beef
Bologna", "New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones", and started to
play "Let's Have a War" when the telecast faded into commercial. The
slamdancers left ripe pumpkin remains on the set. Cameras, a piano and
other property were damaged.
After their SNL appearance, which resulted in $20,000 in damage, some clubs chose not to hire the band. A New York Post
article later reported the figure to be $500,000. This is believed to
have originated from Ving, who told the Post that "...we caused $500,000
worth of damage, a cool half a million dollars worth of damage, ‘cause
we’re professionals, and I counted the damage myself."